Election opens door for students to engage


Michael Guido, News Editor

While the 2020 election campaign has raged on with many ups and downs, students at Gannon University have become active participants in the election process.

Students have been busy in the trenches, working in areas such as campaigning and elections security leading up to Tuesday’s monumental moment of decision.

Chloe Kernan, a junior public service & global affairs major, has worked as an intern for Kristy Gnibus’ congressional campaign.

Gnibus, a first-time candidate, is running against incumbent Rep. Mike Kelly in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District.

Kernan said that some of her day-to-day duties include staffing the front office, filling out post cards, talking to people who come to the office, phone banking, donor research and debate preparation.

Kernan said she got involved in Gnibus’ campaign due to her love of Erie and also because of Gnibus’ personal story.

“I found out about Kristy being a single mom, teacher and cancer survivor,” Kernan said. “Both of my parents are educators and that was what first made me interested in Kristy’s campaign, along with the fact she’s a woman. We need more women in politics and holding public positions.”

Despite the turmoil that has arisen due to the contentiousness of this election, Kernan said that her involvement in the political process has been a plus.

“Especially during this time and with the media, there is so much misleading information out there,” Kernan said.

“Being a part of this campaign and my political sciences classes, I can learn so much, and the most important part about this election and voting is being educated,” Kernan said.

When it comes to what her main takeaway will be from this election, Kernan said that in the end, it doesn’t matter who wins; rather, whether the people who win can unite a fractured country.

“The results of this election will show what values the American people have,” Kernan said.

With much uncertainty circulating regarding voting by mail, some Gannon students are seeking to be part of the solution.

Randall Sutter, a junior public service & global affairs major, is an intern at the Erie County Board of Elections, which is based in the Erie County Courthouse sandwiched on Gannon’s campus.

Sutter, who has handled tasks such as filing documents, scanning ballots in and processing mail-in ballot applications, said he was motivated to participate for reasons beyond it being a paid opportunity.

“I wanted to get involved because I knew this election would have a massive influx of paper to process and I did not want Pennsylvania to be a 2000 Florida 2.0,” Sutter said, referring to the ballot controversy surrounding the results of the 2000 presidential election in the state of Florida.

Sutter, like Kernan, said that even in the midst of hyper-partisanship and voter angst, his involvement in the political process is beneficial.

“I know at the office we do not even discuss politics,” Sutter said. “We are all focused on making sure that the ballots are processed and able to be counted according to voter intent.”

Sutter said he does not see the election through such a consequential lens as others do.

“It is just another bump in the long road of American politics,” Sutter said. “At the end of the day we are all Americans who want our process to work and want what is best for each other, even if we disagree on what that looks like.”

Like Sutter, Emily Hall, a senior criminal justice, chemistry and public service & global affairs major, is an intern at the Erie County Board of Elections, as well as a Campus Election Engagement Project, or CEEP, fellow at Gannon.

In her role as a CEEP fellow, Hall’s job is to arrange campus events in an effort to promote voter registration and encourage students to vote.

Hall has accomplished these goals by speaking in classrooms and hosting campus-wide events and club-specific events, among other things.

At the elections office, Hall works with others to handle mail and organize various forms for the office.

Hall said she decided to do both the fellowship and the internship for the same reasons.

“I’ve always enjoyed politics and I wanted to gain a better understanding into the process and more insight into the mind of the average voter,” Hall said. “I wanted to see what people consider when it comes to choosing candidates and why.”

Hall further said that she wanted to see if there were specific groups of students that were more interested in political engagement.

Hall said she believes that this experience has given her a greater appreciation for the work that goes into setting up an election and the amount of paperwork tied to each voter.

However, Hall didn’t hesitate to share her displeasure with some skepticism directed toward her role.

“Due to the controversy with mail-in voting, I find myself more frustrated with people that make that viewpoint known, as I’m at ground zero for the mail-in ballots coming in,” Hall said.


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